Edvard Munch's seminal painting 'The Scream' - already one of the most iconic artworks ever made - has now become the most expensive piece ever to go under the hammer. The haunting 1885 masterpiece fetched $119.9 million at an auction at Sotheby's in New York on Wednesday (May 2, 2012).
The work is one of four versions created by Munch, a Norwegian expressionist, and it becomes only the fourth artwork to have broken the $100 million barrier. The auction lasted 12 minutes, with around five anxious bidders attempting to outdo each other. Though the buyer remained anonymous, rumors began circulating that financier Leonard Blavatnik or Microsoft Tycoon Paul Allen could have been the lucky bidder, according to the New York Times. Though the setting of the painting is often contested, it is widely deemed to be the view from a road overlooking Oslo, the Oslofjord and Hovedoya in Norway. The key figure in the image is said to be standing at the foot of the hill of Ekeberg - close to where Munch's manic depressive sister was interned in a mental hospital. The iconic imagery has found its way into popular culture, in such television programmes as The Simpsons and Doctor Who.
The previous record for an artwork sold at auction was $106.5 million for Picasso's 'Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust', sold by Christie's in 2010.